By Ed Coambs, KF9 Philippines, Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation
I wanted to share with you one of the many finished products that a Kiva Fellow creates. In this case it is a mass journal. Each Kiva Fellow is expected at some point during their fellowship to write a personal entry to all the lenders that have made a loan through a particular field partner. Part of the mass journal should also clear up the relationship of field partners to Kiva. So I figured that many of the blog readers could also benefit from a similar letter and so here is mine. I hope that you find it helpful.
Hello Kiva lenders my name is Ed Coambs and I am a Kiva Fellow that has spent the last three months working with the field partner Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF). What’s that you don’t know who or what NWTF is, well that is ok. By the end of this journal my hope is that you will understand the important partnership field partners have with Kiva.
Field partners are the backbone of microfinance. They support the body of microfinance, by being the eyes, ears, and nose in their country. Field partners determine what types of loans and services people need in order to start or grow their own business. This means that the money you breathe into Kiva is exhaled through a field partner that is associated with the entrepreneur that you have loaned to.
My experience as a Kiva Fellow has shown how field partners are more than lenders. They are life givers. Kiva lenders like you get to experience the life of these clients through the work of the field partners. The field partners are the ones that spend countless hours in the field doing the humble and thankless work of meeting clients, collecting their stories and then posting them to the Kiva website.
NWTF has shown itself to be a field partner that is unbelievably humble and also a great leader in the industry of microfinance. During my time as a Kiva Fellow I experienced firsthand loan officers spending hours visiting groups of entrepreneurs to collect loan repayments, I attended a microfinance conference where key NWTF staff shared industry insights, and I traveled many hours with the research department to find new areas that could use microfinance. These are just a few examples of the role that a field partner can play in the life of microfinance.
Kiva and NWTF have been partners since July of 2009 and in that short time NWTF has been able to post nearly 350 borrower profiles worth over $135,000. You can be proud of the fact that you have contributed to the early success of the partnership between Kiva and NWTF, but also feel good to know that you are supporting entrepreneurs that are paired with a mature organization that goes the extra mile for their clients.
I will leave you with one of my fondest memories from my time in the field. After spending four days traveling over many rough roads I had seen hundreds of NWTF clients at their center meetings. This is the time that clients gather to meet with their loan officer and conduct the business of their loans. During the center meetings I would have the chance to ask the women about their dreams for the future and almost unanimously they wanted their children to go to college.
It was on the last day of a four day trip to the field, at the last center meeting when I was feeling most hot and tired that I became emotionally stirred. By this point I knew each center had a personality of its own and this last center was no different. The women one by one got up and shared their dreams and as I came to expect many would say they dreamed of their children going to college. But what happened next is what brought tears to my eyes. Several of the women with great pride in their voice and a tear in their eye shared that their children had gone to college and completed. It was then that I realized this is not some far off dream that can’t be accomplished. Rather it is a dream that can come true through hard work, determination, and the help of microfinance.
This is why field partners are so important; they are the backbone of microfinance that brings together the necessary support for the entrepreneurs and the logistical skills to collect the needed funds from the many great lenders on Kiva.org./>